The Dwarves at Botan

A red-hooded female, called Shae, proudly walked among the Faithful and would tell the following to any who would listen:

“I was attached to the Elven forces that marched from Lamont.  The fighting was fierce as we made our way to Marce.  Amongst our ranks was a lone Dwarf of the Gunderstorm clan.  After a particularly brutal fight, I witnessed Lord Pietrov instruct him to “make his move.”  After which, the Dwarf was assigned an escort composed of rebellion members and Elves.  I was one that was chosen.

“We left to the west and crossed the river at a low place in the current.  Making our way into the hills north of Marce, we abruptly turned south.  Many nights of travel found us unharried by undead, and our maps told us that we were now due west of Marce.  Eventually, we made our way to the Dragon Pass, between the Sovereign’s capital city and Verfel.  After some deliberation and debate with the Gunderstorm, we headed west toward Verfel.  About half the way there, Gunderstorm veered off the path and approached a dense expanse of mountain scrub.  Looking around warily, he began to the dead flora from its position.  I soon realized that these bushes had been placed here to cover a trail into the mountains.

“After clearing the way, we ascended the trail and passed through many forks, each leading deeper into the mountains.  After a full day of travel, we came to a nondescript grotto.  I have some skill with tracking and I could tell that many booted individuals had recently passed through here.  Their tracks led to large boulder, partially concealed by more scrub.  Gunderstorm gestured us to get closer and soon I could see the boulder concealed a narrow passage into a cave.  Dreading the tight confines, I opted to go in last.  The Dwarf passed out torches he had in his field pack and we quietly entered the cave.

“As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could hear the Dwarf let out a very particular whistle.  It was answered from the depths and he indicated it was safe to go on.  We pressed forward, navigating the tight twists and turns, and eventually found ourselves on a ledge overlooking a large, open cave.  Milling around on the floor were hundreds of Dwarves.  They were busy building the siege machines that would be needed in the fight.  All manner of weapons were present, and it was apparent that they had been at work for a considerable time.

“Gunderstorm’s chest pushed out in pride and be bade us follow him down the narrow ledge.  I then made note of a large passage out of this cavern.  The glimmer of sunlight was visible down its path, and I decided this must be how they planned to get the siege equipment out of the cavern.  Where did it lead?  We’d soon find out.

“The Dwarf met with the commander, Breakforge by name, of the siege company and they discussed the battle plans of the Elves.  The commander grumbled, but seemed to be happy with the turn of events.  He ordered that final preparations be made to move the gear and make for the walls of Marce.  Dragon Pass would be our thoroughfare and it was going to be tough.

“The next day, Breakforge ordered the first movement.  From the depths of the cave system came hundreds more Dwarves.  They began to ready the equipment and push it forth down the large passageway.  More and more Dwarves filed out of the cave, many were equipped as an infantryman would be and more still bore the gear of a sapper.

“Eventually, it was our turn to leave the cave, and the moonlight showed me a neatly formed army of Dwarves at the ready.  Breakforge and Gunderstorm were standing on a siege tower surveying their forces.  I followed their eyes and saw many distinct squads.  There were unarmed units, which I took to be spell casters, heavily armoured skirmishers with exotic blades; these must be the close combat squads.  The regular infantry was numerous and stood next to the two dozen crossbowmen.  After some time, Breakforge ordered the march and pack animals were brought forward to tow the siege weapons.

“Passage through the mountains was terrifying, as the pathways were barely large enough to accommodate the largest equipment.  We even lost one siege tower to a steep cliff, its mass and pack animals tumbling down the side.  Eventually, we made it to the relatively flat surface of the Dragon Pass.  The army of Dwarves recalibrated and formed up in a sensible phalanx.  The heavily armored warriors were to the front and we made to march.

“Marce was not far from our location, so we met stiff resistance in the form of lesser undead.  It was a simple thing to dispatch them, as we were all veterans in this fight.  After several battles, things got serious.  Our passage was blocked by a wall of glowing red eyes.  Greater undead.  The heavy infantry, whom I had learned were armed with enchanted weapons, dove into the fight with support from the spell casting units.  It was fierce, but casualties were reasonably low.  The Dwarves were the equal in skill to the undead, but they could not match strength for strength.  Nonetheless, they won the day.

“As we pressed within a mile of the Marce’s walls, we could see them towering above the low hills surrounding it.  Our target in sight, the frontline warriors adjusted tactics.  It reminded me of a turtle, but the Dwarves formed a shell of shields around themselves.  It was clever and the could reach out with their weapons and strike.  Their defense was not wasted, as a new assault crashed into us.  Hundreds of skeletons and zombies smashed themselves into the shield barricade and were systematically cut down.  There was even occasion to put the trebuchets to work.

“Inexorably forward the Dwarves pressed, making ground, losing warriors, and eventually making it to the very walls of the city.  Forces were evenly distributed for defense and the siege equipment was rapidly set up.  The western gate of the city was securely closed, yet undead still came.  The skeletons were being thrown over the wall by other, larger undead.  A strange tactic to be sure, but it was effective.  The Dwarves had to defend the inside of their emplacement, as well as the outside.

“Eventually, things hit a rhythm, and the encampment was secured.  The flow of undead went unabated, but now the Dwarves had adapted to the tactic and could defend as needed.  The siege was well under way.  A squad, including Gunderstorm and Breakforge, made north along the river.  They were seen communicating with a beautiful Sea Elf on the shore.  They had brought casks of something explosive and turned it over to her and her fellows.  I overheard talk about destroying the water gates that prevented unwarranted access into Marce.  The Sea Elves took the casks beneath the waves and disappeared.  Considered a successful council by the Dwarves, they returned to the main camp.

“Breakforge and Gunderstorm came to me and my squad with instructions.  Dwarven scouts had encountered Orcs to the east and the Elves to the north had finally made siege.  Three armies now crashed at the walls of Marce, and it was likely that more would join the fight.  Our instructions were to take word to the Orcs, Elves, and then finally to the Faithful.

“Passing through the Orcish forces was not easy, but they were too busy fighting undead to harass us much.  We were greatly relieved to see the Elven force and we passed the message on.  Finally, we pressed on toward Clanthia, using the back trails and avoiding crossroads at all costs.  We finally made it here and this is the message I bring:  Marce is under siege and we’re waiting for the killing strike from the Faithful.

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